Beware, invasion of the bed bugs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 May, 2011, 12:00am


Summer is the breeding season for many household pests, but one of the most worrying is the global pandemic of bed bugs which has already hit Hong Kong.

Bed bugs range from one to seven millimetres in length, with flat bodies and a reddish-brown colour. They feed by sucking blood from humans or animals. They often travel in airline luggage or on clothes to wherever people sleep or rest.

They can hide in bed frames, headboards, skirting, wall and ceiling cracks, behind light switches and can drop on you from the ceiling.

Bed bugs smell sweetish, like almonds, and produce black spots like felt tip marker dots on furniture, and blood spots on bedding, carpets and walls.

'The number of residential and hotel cases are increasing. One of the reasons is frequent travel, and the fact that people don't know the proper way to treat and prevent them,' says Rentokil marketing and sales manager Candy Wong Hoi-lam .

'We see them in flats and hotels ranging from 1-to-5 stars. People cannot believe that they are sleeping with bed bugs.

'When we receive an insect-bite complaint from a household, they usually tell us they were bitten by bugs 'from nowhere'. The house is cleaned daily and hygiene is good.

'But then we visit, do an inspection and normally we find bed bugs hiding in the mattress and under the bed. The household is shocked they have so many bed bugs. People mistakenly believe that sound hygiene can keep all pests away, but that is not the case for bed bugs.'

Wong says the most common household pests include cockroaches, booklice and mites, with spraying of pesticide being the most common treatment offered.

Booklice feed off microscopic mould or mildew that results when books are not sheltered from moisture. They can also be found in furniture, rugs, cupboards and closets. They are usually colourless, grey or light yellow. Mites are related to ticks and are microscopic. Most prey on animals and insects.

Rentokil says all the pesticides it uses are approved and registered by the Hong Kong government's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

Sometimes households need to be treated more than once, but this depends on the level of infestation and the type of pests involved.

Spring and summer are breeding seasons for termites, mosquitoes and rodents, while autumn and winter are known as 'harbouraging' seasons with fewer pests. However, cockroaches are usually active year-round as they enjoy the warmer temperatures indoors.

Rentokil also has a team of field biologists. Scientifically trained, they are experts in carrying out in-depth inspections of premises to correctly identify the pests involved and make practical recommendations.

Rentokil can also develop a pest risk management plan which takes a holistic approach - looking at how to best prevent the pests again - with an agreed number of annual visits and optional levels of vigilance, emergency call-out, electronic surveillance and monitoring.